So what mountain bike options are available for those of us who want to go mountain biking in London?
Well, I don’t know if you noticed, but there isn’t a forest in the centre of London hidden behind Big Ben. (I checked). So unfortunately, mountain biking in London means heading slightly further out. However, thanks to the rather good (at times) train system this isn’t too difficult.
Take for example our first London mountain bike route..
Epping Forest is cross country riding at its finest. Fortunately, it isn’t too far from the center of London. You either ride there or get the train to Chingford. The forest is fairly muddy all year round so it is challenging at times but can keep you occupied for a good 2-4 hours depending on how much exploring you are doing. It is also possible to rent mountain bikes nearby.
A route around Epping Forest is included in the London Cyclist 35 London Cycle Routes eBook.
Taking the train over to Epsom, which is still inside the M25 ring is worth it for all the forests in the area. You can head through the Epsom Downs race track and then around the forests in the area which include Nower Wood, Jubilee Wood and Epsom Common. The trails here require some sussing out but riding around here on a mountain bike is great fun.
I’ve had a particularly entertaining fall on a mountain bike here where I ended up covered in mud. The train ride back was very funny with everyone staring at me wondering why on earth I was so covered in mud.
A route around the Epsom Downs is included in the London Cyclist 35 London Cycle Routes eBook.
Another forest trail not so far from Epping Forest is Hainault. I’ve yet to ride here so I can’t share much more info on it. However, there is a route I found by the North Bristol Mountain Bike Club that I plan on trying out very soon.
Image via Lil Shepherd
When I was having a chat with the team from Halfords, I asked about their favourite mountain biking destinations. When they talked about The Chilterns they had that look on their face that said “I wish I was there now”. For us Londoners this does mean a train ride out of London and the confines of the M25 ring.
Tring is one of the nearest stations in the area which can be reached from Euston. From there its a short ride to an area filled with mountain bike trails including jumps and cross country.
An example of one of the trails available is the Aston Hill Mountain Biking Area. This costs £5 to ride on the weekends. More information is available on the website. For more information on mountain biking in the Chilterns this site has been really useful.
Just 40 miles out of London is Swinley Forest. The best way to get there is by train to Bracknell. The area is rideable all year round and there’s even a dedicated MTB area. For guided rides around here the Berks On Bikes MTB club is a good destination. Intro rides are open to non-members but must be booked in advance. You do need a permit to ride here but it only costs £1 a day which can be purchased from the Lookout. This helps maintain the area.
The area was voted one of the best mountain bike trails in the UK by Mountain Biking UK (pdf on area).
Mountain biking here we come..
I’ll be trying out plenty of mountain bike routes near London on the Voodoo Canzo in the coming months and report back on my findings. In the mean time please do leave any suggested rides in the comments below.